The app is much like Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media platform with 260 million MAU.
in the waves Amid the heated debate over whether TikTok should be banned, another ByteDance product, Lemon8, emerged and quickly entered the top 10 in the US app stores.
Lemon8’s surge is reminiscent of TikTok’s early growth. At that time, Vine was already a pioneer in short video sharing in the US. TikTok has taken media formats to the next level through content recommendation algorithms. has achieved great success in China with its sister app Douyin.
While some industry observers currently describe Lemon8 as being at the intersection of Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon, those familiar with China’s internet ecosystem believe the app is an example of a “copy from China.” You’ll notice that in no time.
For much of China’s early internet history, entrepreneurs took inspiration from trends gaining momentum in the US to build their Chinese counterparts, creating China’s answer to Google, Facebook, and others. The practice is still here, as demonstrated by the bevy of companies in China that have expressed ambitions to become his OpenAI. However, the reversal of this trend is taking shape as technical talents raised in China become more sophisticated and come up with innovative services that do not yet exist overseas.
At first glance, Lemon8’s photo-heavy layout and peer-to-peer reviews look a lot like Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social commerce platform with 260 million monthly active users. Xiaohongshu, which means ‘little red book’, has been helping Chinese young people over the past decade with everything from maternal health care and surviving centralized quarantine in China to finding the best Chinese restaurant in Düsseldorf. It has become the go-to online community for learning life hacks in the field.
Bike sharing, live shopping, and social commerce are just a few of China’s Internet business models that have gained users overseas. Xiaohongshu has also ventured into other Asian markets through Uniik and Spark, but neither has been successful. Now, ByteDance is pushing his Xiaohongshu playbook westward, reflecting what TikTok has learned from his Douyin model back home.
little red playbook
Founded as a platform for sharing overseas shopping guides, Xiaohongshu has mainly focused on collecting practical information. Posts are arranged in a Pinterest-like grid, but partially ranked by number of “saves”. Unlike Instagram, there is little competition to post the most compelling photos. Rather, the images are used to contextualize user-submitted notes, such as his COVID-19 PCR results needed to catch a flight to China.
Rather than favoring professionally produced influencer posts, the app encourages discovery of long-tail content, emphasizing relevance over entertainment. When the user is using her Xiaohongshu, the user is experiencing literally “planting grass”, called “zhongcao”. This concept is popularized by platforms to convey the effect of wanting to buy something after seeing someone else recommending it, such as a friend or influencer.
Of Xiaohongshu’s 260 million MAU, 69 million are content creators, the company said at a recent event. 70% of her users are female and born after 1990. Most of our users live in China’s more prosperous and prestigious cities. At its peak, the company’s valuation reached his $20 billion, but last year it fell from $10 billion to $16 billion as China’s crackdown on technology eroded investor confidence. It is said that
It’s too early to tell if Lemon8 can bring zhongcao culture to the US and other countries. For now, most of the app’s traction appears to be largely due to flashy advertising and influencer endorsements via TikTok.
There are also signs that Lemon8 pays influencers to post content. This is a common practice seen on Chinese social media platforms, including Douyin. But this may be the biggest difference that separates Lemon8 from Xiaohongshu, which rarely subsidizes influencers heavily. Many argue that there is.
It’s still early days and Lemon8 may be a long way from thinking about monetization, but if the app has amassed a sizeable user base, it’s time to see what steps need to be taken to make money. would be interesting. You might look to Xiaohongshu, which currently makes money through advertising and e-commerce commissions. Of course, simply transferring an existing business model from one country to another is never easy. Even ByteDance’s mammoth has struggled to gain traction in the West for live shopping, which is a big part of Douyin’s Chinese revenue.